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Alternative Imaginaries for the Smart Cities is an experimental, design- and art-led inquiry into new ways to digitize and represent the city.

Whereas much of what goes under the smart city banner consists of top-down efforts to sense, measure and manage the city based on the needs of government and/or the technical capabilities of urban technologies, the project proceeds in the inverse direction:

The point of departure is neither technology nor policy but what residents think is important in their neighbourhood but remains invisible.

Based on ethnographic research on site, the project moves in parallel tracks. Speculative design is used to translate the values and desires of residents into imaginary forms of urban sensor technologies, while co-design is used to work directly with residents on issues of measurement and quantification.

The result are ostensible alternative imaginaries – ways to imagine, experience and value the city away from the drive for efficiency that typifies most smart city initiatives – and a potential foundation for a city truly as smart as its residents.

Alternative Imaginaries for the Smart City is funded by the City of Rotterdam, and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions.

Read more about the project ⟶

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Image by Judith Leijdekkers

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